Numbers of gannets soar at landmark

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THE Bass Rock has become a victim of overcrowding after the number of gannets living there surged, according to new data.

Solar powered cameras beaming live pictures to the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, together with anecdotal evidence, have revealed there are now at least 150,000 gannets living on the Bass Rock close to the East Lothian coast.

An official count carried out in 2009 showed there were approximately 55,482 pairs of the seabirds, not including chicks, living on the island. In 2004 there were 48,000 pairs.

A number of Bass Rock gannets are known to fly as far as Norway in the search for food, meaning the population continues to grow while the number of other bird species fluctuates.

Dr Keith Hamer, a lecturer in ecology at Leeds University, said: “As the gannet population increases, it takes over more and more ground. The competition for [nest] sites is intense.”